Nexon invests $ 400 million in the Russo brothers’ film company worth $ 1.1 billion

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Nexon has invested $ 400 million in AGBO, a film and entertainment company created by Avengers instructors Anthony and Joe Russo.

The minority investment from Tokyo-based Nexon estimates AGBO at $ 1.1 billion, which is a vote of confidence in the Russo brothers, who made films such as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which was among the most successful Marvel movies ever.

AGBO is the production studio established by the Russo brothers and their producing partner Mike Larocca in 2017 to innovate and promote the next generation of storytelling.

Nexon’s online games like Kart Rider and Dungeon & Fighter have generated billions of dollars in revenue over the years, and Nexon uses that money to make big investments in companies like Hasbro, Bandai Namco, Konami and Sega Sammy. But this investment matches the trend with gaming companies going to Hollywood, as Sony demonstrated yesterday with its previews of the Uncharted movie and HBO TV show The Last of Us. Microsoft is also making a Halo TV show, and Gearbox is making a Borderlands movie.

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In an interview with GamesBeat, the leaders of the companies said that they think this relationship will be deeper.

While the Russo brothers worked on the Avengers for a decade, Nexon operates similarly with its games-as-a-service online games, as some of Nexon’s games still earn revenue after 15 years, said Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon. in an interview with GamesBeat.

Above: AGBO is focused on creating entertainment universes.

Image credit: AGBO

“We’re seeing a secular convergence between different forms of entertainment media, and the winners will be the ones who can think deeply about this,” Mahoney said. “We believe in the theme of secular convergence, of building deeply immersive virtual worlds, and your experience or your intellectual property is incredibly relevant. And one has to think holistically about them. We do not think there are many people who think deeply about it. here, but we have worked very hard to find creative people who care deeply about it. “

The company creates and produces film and TV projects for streaming and cinema distribution with partners including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NBC Universal, Disney, Apple TV +, A24 and Roku.

AGBO plans to specialize in creating cinematic “universes”. AGBO wants to create franchises with significant scope and scale – spanning films, episode series, digital media and games / interactive experiences. Where Nexon comes in is helping with both game-based and original intellectual property ideas that can turn into a new kind of reverse transmedia where games inspire movies.

“We are certainly motivated to find opportunities to work together,” said Jason Bergsman, CEO of AGBO, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We are in the early stages of labeling them out. I would like to think we want to do something new.”

The Russo brothers and the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (AGBO co-chairs of history) – teamed up to direct and write four Marvel films that generated a cumulative $ 7 billion in box office revenue.

Nexon’s investment will further support AGBO’s development, production and ownership of tent-pole-led intellectual properties that appeal to worldwide audiences, while enabling AGBO to more aggressively pursue the development of storytelling and virtual world experiences that expand storytelling and interactive audience engagement around its IP.

“All the good things that come in our industry and around the entertainment industry come from very, well-crafted, highly skilled creators who insist on making something interesting and new and fresh,” Mahoney said. “My job is really to empower some people like that because I know there will be good things in the world and definitely for our shareholders. It’s very difficult to do.”

Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon

Top: Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon

Image credit: Nexon

AGBO remains an independent company financially and creatively controlled by the Russos and AGBO management and will continue to work on a variety of entertainment projects, now with the added benefit of the strategic relationship with Nexon.

The partnership also accelerates Nexon’s film and television strategy and expands Nexon’s gaming IP to the US markets. Nexon is a Tokyo-listed pioneer in online gaming and virtual worlds with a stock market value of $ 18 billion.

“AGBO is driven by creatives who strive to work on a universal scale,” the Russo brothers said in a statement. “AGBO’s partnership with Nexon represents a significant moment of entertainment that promotes the convergence of franchise film production and games with a global reach. Our collaboration is based on our shared vision of future storytelling and leverages both companies’ unique talents.”

Nexon’s largest franchise, Dungeon & Fighter, is especially popular in China and Korea, Nexon’s home market, and it has generated over $ 18 billion in lifetime revenue.

Nexon’s investment in AGBO is through Nexon Studios, Nexon’s newly launched US-based film and television division, which is led by veteran of the entertainment industry and Nexon’s Chief Strategy Officer Nick van Dyk. At AGBO’s request, Nexon has pledged to invest up to an additional $ 100 million in the first half of 2022.

There have been many failed projects between Hollywood and gaming companies.

“We all think it will be brighter than most of the historical context has been,” van Dyk said in an interview with GamesBeat. Video games, based solely on their popularity and commitment, remain the most wildly untapped reserve of franchise IPs in the world. [Collaborations] have worked, but they are not as successful as what we strive to do, and probably not as their creators strive to do. “

In the past, filmmakers would give a license after a hit film is released, and then the game makers embark on an idea where there is already a lot of film cannon. That means they get limited creativity by expanding this franchise into games, van Dyk said.

“What makes a good game is gameplay,” he said. “And there was a story element in it. And what makes a good TV show is the story and the character, which is really a different type of storytelling.”

Bergsman said the investment from Nexon will help AGBO think long-term and preserve its rights, but he said he believes other parties will help fund AGBO’s various projects. So the money from Nexon does not mean that AGBO is done raising money.

Nexons Embark Studios creates ambitious virtual worlds.

Above: Nexons Embark Studios creates ambitious virtual worlds.

Image credit: Nexon

In this case, van Dyk said that both companies have great respect for each other’s capabilities.

“We really see the opportunity for collaboration going in two directions,” Bergsman said. “There’s the more established process where Hollywood adapts a game franchise to movies and television.”

Van Dyk also said companies could take that approach to collaborating on an original idea. Given that kind of collaboration, Bergsman said that AGBO could think of designing a universe in a different way so that it could be expressed as a game world or a movie world.

“We are just as excited about the prospect of expanding our linearly based narrative universes into interactive experiences,” Bergsman said.

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